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Late-game magic in Bulls victory

Bulls improve to 32-20 on the season

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By Sam Smith | 2.8.2015 | 7:34 p.m. CT

The Bulls Sunday defeated, then lost, and then somehow defeated the Orlando Magic 98-97.

The victory sent the Bulls home from their long road trip 3-3 and 32-20 on the season in the unlikeliest of finishes. The Magic were leading 97-91 with 32.6 seconds left with Orlando players already celebrating on the court. But Jimmy Butler made a steal on Victor Oladipo and got a breakaway foul call. Butler made both free throws and then out of the timeout found Derrick Rose on top for a three pointer to get within 97-96, a five-point play.

The Bulls then forced a turnover trapping Evan Fournier and forcing a backcourt violation. Rose then drove and put up a runner that was about to roll off and put back in by Pau Gasol. The Bulls then held off a pair of point blank inside attempts by the Magic to escape with the unlikeliest of comeback wins after the Bulls led by 16 early in the game.

The Bulls were led by Butler with 27 points and six steals and Gasol with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Rose had 10 points and 11 rebounds and Joakim Noah was almost the fourth Bulls with a double/double as he had 18 points and nine rebounds. Orlando fell to 16-38 and 6-18 at home. The Bulls went to 19-9 on the road.

The Bulls carried over their strong finish from Saturday in New Orleans with a 32-16 first quarter lead. But they stumbled again with substitutions to start the second quarter and led just 50-45 at halftime.The Magic took the initiative in the third quarter and took a 64-59 lead behind the shooting of Channing Frye and Nikola Vucevic inside. But the Bulls rallied and stayed in the game behind the play of Butler and Gasol and were tied at 74 entering the fourth quarter.

Observations:

1. Jimmy Butler was like a cartoon character being hit and seemingly injured several times, yet coming back with strong play after strong play. Butler got in the lanes for steals and run outs and played one of his best all around games this season.

2. Pau Gasol continues to be reliable both scoring and rebounding and not only with another double/double. But he continues to help space the inside with his perimeter shooting and passing and is a rock on the defensive boards.

3. The Bulls so called tendency to “play down” to opponents seems more a lack of the so called “killer instinct.” Having the Magic down early, the Bulls played sloppily and without intensity, allowing the Magic to come back into the game. Though this time they pulled off an unlikely rally to win.